LAHORE: The locomotive of the Dera Ghazi Khan-bound 214-down Mohenjo-daro express caught fire near Kot Addu on Saturday. The driver and his assistant also received burn injuries in a bid to extinguish fire. They were taken to hospital by Rescue 1122 staff, according to official sources.

The train, which departed from Multan, was on its way to Dera Ghazi Khan when its locomotive (No 8084) caught fire suddenly after its crankcase cover ruptured at Kot Addu station. The driver and his assistant immediately came out of the cabin and tried to extinguish fire along with other local staff. But, they couldn’t do so on their own. Resultantly, both driver and his assistant received burn injuries and were given first aid by Rescue 1122 officials.

“There was a blast after the locomotive crankcase cover ruptured at about 9:30am. Driver Sher Khan and his assistant M.Irfan immediately started efforts to extinguish the fire. They also received injuries. And finally they were taken back to Multan through a railway ambulance,” Pakistan Railways Drivers Association (Multan Division) President Karim Bakhsh told Dawn.

He said the local rail authorities arranged another engine and crew to take the train to DG Khan.

To a question, Mr Bakhsh said: “Sparking already generates fire in the system. And whenever engine appears to be overheated, the safety devices automatically stop fire to expand besides switching the engine off. But, in this case, it seems that the devices didn’t work that led to a blast and made the locomotive dead. So we have doubt that the locomotives running at the moment are either without the safety devices or the devices are not working properly.”

When contacted, PR’s Chief Executive Officer Nisar Ahmad Memon told this reporter that he would get an inquiry into the incident held.

The PR has been facing frequent accidents, including some related to fire eruption, for the last couple of years. These included the October 2019 Tezgam fire tragedy that killed 73 passengers. Similarly, a fire also erupted in the running Jinnah Express dining car near Harappa (Sahiwal) on June 18, last year.

Likewise Jafar Express power van also caught fire near Jacobabad in the first week of this month.

According to our Sahiwal correspondent, the engine of Tazgam Express broke down at Harrapa railway station on Saturday which delayed the train journey by four hours.

When Lahore-bound Tazgam Express engine broke down on Saturday morning, all up trains were taken to down trains track.

Published in Dawn, October 25th, 2020